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V Brooklynu roste strom

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Autorka se pokusila citlivě a současně i taktně vykreslit osudy jedné rodiny irských vystěhovalců, která se usídlila v americkém průmyslovém středisku - Brooklynu. Jednu stránku tvoří osudy jednotlivců, např. příběh číšníka Jana Nolana, propadlého alkoholismu, nebo jeho ženy Katy, která většinu života tráví u kbelíku a hadru na chodbách obrovských činžáků, či smutný osud p Autorka se pokusila citlivě a současně i taktně vykreslit osudy jedné rodiny irských vystěhovalců, která se usídlila v americkém průmyslovém středisku - Brooklynu. Jednu stránku tvoří osudy jednotlivců, např. příběh číšníka Jana Nolana, propadlého alkoholismu, nebo jeho ženy Katy, která většinu života tráví u kbelíku a hadru na chodbách obrovských činžáků, či smutný osud pologramotné babičky Rommelyové. Hlavní postavou románu je mladičká Fanny, která alespoň svým vzděláním se chce povznést nad úroveň vlastní rodiny. Druhá stránka vyvstává čtenáři před očima zásluhou mistrovského vyprávění autorky. Její postoj je prodchnut optimismem, pramenícím z víry, že všichni tito lidé, potácející se na rozhraní lidského bytí a nebytí, si jedou proklestí cestu ke šťastnějšímu a naplněnějšímu životu.


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Autorka se pokusila citlivě a současně i taktně vykreslit osudy jedné rodiny irských vystěhovalců, která se usídlila v americkém průmyslovém středisku - Brooklynu. Jednu stránku tvoří osudy jednotlivců, např. příběh číšníka Jana Nolana, propadlého alkoholismu, nebo jeho ženy Katy, která většinu života tráví u kbelíku a hadru na chodbách obrovských činžáků, či smutný osud p Autorka se pokusila citlivě a současně i taktně vykreslit osudy jedné rodiny irských vystěhovalců, která se usídlila v americkém průmyslovém středisku - Brooklynu. Jednu stránku tvoří osudy jednotlivců, např. příběh číšníka Jana Nolana, propadlého alkoholismu, nebo jeho ženy Katy, která většinu života tráví u kbelíku a hadru na chodbách obrovských činžáků, či smutný osud pologramotné babičky Rommelyové. Hlavní postavou románu je mladičká Fanny, která alespoň svým vzděláním se chce povznést nad úroveň vlastní rodiny. Druhá stránka vyvstává čtenáři před očima zásluhou mistrovského vyprávění autorky. Její postoj je prodchnut optimismem, pramenícím z víry, že všichni tito lidé, potácející se na rozhraní lidského bytí a nebytí, si jedou proklestí cestu ke šťastnějšímu a naplněnějšímu životu.

30 review for V Brooklynu roste strom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    Some books give young girls dreams of ponies, kittens, and visions of eternal love. This book is not one of them. If I were to make a metaphor, this book would be the equivalent of the ice bucket challenge. It offers no platitudes, it is harsh, realistic. It slaps you in the face with reality, a reality that is very rarely pleasant. And it is also one of the best young adult books I have ever read. I first read this book as a young teen, perhaps when I was 13 or 14. The main lesson I learned from i Some books give young girls dreams of ponies, kittens, and visions of eternal love. This book is not one of them. If I were to make a metaphor, this book would be the equivalent of the ice bucket challenge. It offers no platitudes, it is harsh, realistic. It slaps you in the face with reality, a reality that is very rarely pleasant. And it is also one of the best young adult books I have ever read. I first read this book as a young teen, perhaps when I was 13 or 14. The main lesson I learned from it: Life is not fair. Life is hard. Life is harsh. People suffer. Good things do not come to those who wait. Even if you're the best person in the world, life can still slap you in the face, and you can only take what fate has handed you. Even if you strive to be the best child you can be to your parents, they can still show favoritism to your younger sibling, for no reason than the fact that your younger sibling was determined through some undetermined reason to be superior. Parents can and will play favorites, despite your best efforts. Even if your mother works her hands to the bone to support you and your brother, you will secretly love your wastrel, drunkard of a father more, for unfathomable reasons. Because human nature doesn't always make sense, and you can't help who you love. Even if you're committed to common sense, you will have your heart broken. People can and will take advantage of you, no matter how much you try to guard yourself. This book is a bleak one. It is about a young girl named Frannie, a child born of desperately poor parents. A quiet child, a shy child, one who takes comfort in books. I think we can all relate to that. A girl mature beyond her years, due to the hardships of the poor Brooklyn life in which she grew up, but a girl who is naive, all the same. She knew her family was poor, but little children never notice much of that. Her mother has to stretch a loaf of bread over an entire week, but there is magic in how she does it so that there is variety in their meals. She takes joy in playing with her brother, in getting a few pennies to buy a bit of candy at the dime store. In buying a pickle and reveling in the sourness of it. Simple joys that only children know. It is not until later in life that reality becomes all too clear. Her neighbors are vibrant, colorful. Above all, they are people. They are human. This may be a silly thing to note, but not all books are about people, not all books have humans that seem human. Too many books have characters who are little more than typescript on a page. The people in this book seem alive, from the grumpy old man who yells at her down the street, to the sadly tragic woman who enters into a costume competition---and wins---for wearing what judges feel to be a symbolic dress with just one arm, not realizing that she is too poor to afford both sleeves, and the one arm is from a salvaged outfit. If you wanted a true portrait of the people of Brooklyn in the early 20th century, you will find no better depiction in this book. No, this book doesn't offer any rainbows, there are no daydreams. Not all little girls need constant beauty and joy and complacency. All girls, however, need a good dose of reality. They need to know that they, too, can survive and thrive, despite what life throws at them. Because if a girl like Frannie can survive like a blade of grass sprouting from the hard concrete of Brooklyn, so can they.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Campbell

    "Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well-dressed. Let me be sincere- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost." "Don't say that. It's not better to die. W "Dear God, let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well-dressed. Let me be sincere- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost." "Don't say that. It's not better to die. Who wants to die? Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there from the grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It's growing out of sour earth. And it's strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong." "Oh, I wish I was young again when everything seemed so wonderful!" "Well, a person can cry for only so long. Then she has to find something else to do with her time." "I know that's what people say- you'll get over it. I'd say it, too. But I know it's not true. Oh, you'll be happy again, never fear. But you won't forget."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    {Yup, I'm reading it AGAIN.} I sob, and I mean sob, every time I read this book. It's such a simple story--Francie Nolan is a smart little girl who's trying to find beauty in her sometimes ugly, always poverty-stricken life. Her adored father is wonderful, but too plagued by his own demons to support his family. Her mother loves her children fiercely but is often harsh because she thinks it's her job to keep them grounded in reality (oh, and she seems to love Francie's brother more). Her aunt is {Yup, I'm reading it AGAIN.} I sob, and I mean sob, every time I read this book. It's such a simple story--Francie Nolan is a smart little girl who's trying to find beauty in her sometimes ugly, always poverty-stricken life. Her adored father is wonderful, but too plagued by his own demons to support his family. Her mother loves her children fiercely but is often harsh because she thinks it's her job to keep them grounded in reality (oh, and she seems to love Francie's brother more). Her aunt is a bit of a floozy, but is still kind and generous. Together, this family lives dirt-poor in Brooklyn. And that's it. But from this simple premise grows a tender, heartbreaking story. It's the only book that fills me with sadness just by thinking about it. Also, this is another of those books that I fear will fade away. It's just not that flashy, and it is long. I'm always saddened at how much length plays a part in what my students choose to read. Please buy it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter Derk

    Well, the tree grows very slowly and with exhaustive detail. Couldn't get through this one. Actually, that's not entirely true. I could have. And I don't mean that in the way of a mountain climber who just couldn't make it to the top and then warps reality by looking back at it. No, it's more like "couldn't" as in "I couldn't eat another hashbrown from my McDonald's breakfast." Sure, I COULD have. It just didn't seem worth the pain. I get why this book is a classic, I think. My brother and I argue Well, the tree grows very slowly and with exhaustive detail. Couldn't get through this one. Actually, that's not entirely true. I could have. And I don't mean that in the way of a mountain climber who just couldn't make it to the top and then warps reality by looking back at it. No, it's more like "couldn't" as in "I couldn't eat another hashbrown from my McDonald's breakfast." Sure, I COULD have. It just didn't seem worth the pain. I get why this book is a classic, I think. My brother and I argue about this all the time. He feels like it's important to watch a movie like Casablanca because it's historically significant to the medium of film. He makes the point that without Casablanca, there is no Ghostbusters (okay, he doesn't point to Ghostbusters, but he should if he ever wants to get any traction with ME). This book is definitely of interest as a historical document. An historical document(?) You know what, I'm not done talking about Ghostbusters, so we better stick with "a historical document." The book is excruciatingly detailed about day-to-day life in Brooklyn during the early 1900's, down to what they had at the candy store. I shit you not, there's a page and a half describing the purchase of a pickle. The WHY of a pickle purchase. The best practices. The roles played by both seller and buyer. And here I am, enormous pickles in plastic sleeves of juice at every gas station in town. What I'm saying is, this is a great thing to have as it records what was happening in that time period, and also records the day-to-day life of a family that's just this side of poor. Not a war, not a huge event. Just what happens at your average Brooklyn pickle place. So I get why it's important, but that doesn't mean I want to read it. My brother would tell you that without Casablanca there is no Ghostbusters, and I can't disagree with that. But I like Ghostbusters. I don't like Casablanca. And with books and movies we're lucky enough to be in an age where there is more good material out there than people can consume in a lifetime. I am wholly convinced that I will never read every book that I would truly enjoy, which is messed up. Really messed up. But it's true, and that means there's really no time to waste on something that, though not terrible, just isn't doing much for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brina

    During my adolescent years a short run program on television was Brooklyn Bridge, a show about life in Brooklyn during the 1950s. The last line of the show's theme song was "that place just over the Brooklyn Bridge" will always be home to me. When I think of Brooklyn, my mind goes back to a more wholesome time when city children could stay out late and parents did not have to worry about their well being, where children frequented the penny candy store and rode on paper routes after school. This During my adolescent years a short run program on television was Brooklyn Bridge, a show about life in Brooklyn during the 1950s. The last line of the show's theme song was "that place just over the Brooklyn Bridge" will always be home to me. When I think of Brooklyn, my mind goes back to a more wholesome time when city children could stay out late and parents did not have to worry about their well being, where children frequented the penny candy store and rode on paper routes after school. This was the Brooklyn of the 1950s, yet by immersing myself in Betty Smith's timeless A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for two days, I entered into an environment that was both wholesome and dangerous and a perfect setting for coming of age: the Brooklyn of the 1910s. Francie Nolan was born December 15, 1901, the eldest child of Johnny and Katie Nolan. The Nolan parents may have been born in Brooklyn, but both only had an eighth grade education and had been working in factories from the time they were fourteen. By the time they married as older teenagers, the Nolans were relegated to a life in the tenements, living paycheck to paycheck. The only way they could afford their apartment was through Katie working as a janitress in the building. Here is where we first meet Francie, age eleven, a girl who her grandmother Mary Rommely noted was destined for a special life. As Francie and her brother Neeley, aged one year younger, came of age they had to endure many hardships. Between Johnny's drinking and Katie's meager earnings, there was no telling where the family's next meal would come from. Yet, Katie persevered because she wanted her children to have a better life than the one she had. She had Francie and Neeley read a page of the Bible and a page of Shakespeare each night before bed, and exchanged her work as a janitor for piano lessons from two spinster women who lived downstairs. Between this self-education and Johnny's constant lessons in civics and politics, the Nolan children had more education than their parents ever had. One place that was free was the public library. Francie was determined to read one book a day for the rest of her life. Through reading she uplifted herself from the rest of her neighborhood despite the extreme poverty in which she lived. Katie taught her children to be proud of their station in life and never accept charity. Through hard work, religion, and education, the next generation would endure. I thought these messages were timeless, as well as the sisterly chats between Katie and her sisters Sissy and Evy, which eventually grew to include Francie when she reached her teen years. Girls grew up fast then, a girl frequenting the library one day, to a teen working in a factory the next. I thought Francie's exchanges with Katie and Sissy about life were especially poignant, as I watched Francie grow up before my eyes. Betty Smith was born December 15, 1896, five years before Francie Nolan. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was her first novel, and an autobiographical account of her life until she left for college. It generated much acclaim, even initially, because as writer Anna Quindlen points out in her forward, that no matter what station in life you are in, a person can see oneself in Francie Nolan. Perhaps if I had read this book when I was eleven, I may have thought this way. Yet, by reading this classic for the first time as an adult, I found it to be a charming, historical fiction, coming of age story; however, not one that left me bawling and would change my life. For an adolescent girl reading this for the first time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn would be a special experience. As Francie is about to leave her childhood behind, she points out that Brooklyn is a special place, not like New York, and one has to be from there to understand it. These sentiments echoed Quindlen's writing, as I came to experience the magic of early 20th century Brooklyn. Betty Smith ties up her ending happily because this is what happens in the first part of her life. She would go on to be a novelist and playwright, and a reader can expect the same bright things for Francie Nolan. For an eleven year old girl, reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a magical experience and sure fire five star read. As an adult, I can appreciate the life lessons learned as well as the timeless of the setting. I enjoyed my time with Francie and her family and rate this classic 4.5 shining stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    F

    Loved it from page 1 Slow paced and really descriptive but I loved it. I really enjoyed learning about life back then for the Nolans Highs and lows of life and daily experience I was so emotionally attached to Francie. She was a brillant character and I loved her to pieces

  7. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    I had heard of this book quite frequently, but for some reason or another never picked it up. Then years ago, my book club decided to read it. What a Joy! What a Pleasure! I loved reading about this young girl who loved to read as much as I did. How I could relate to her love of going to the library and finding that special book - that treasure! Thus, this book became my treasure. It holds a place on my favorite book list! Francie Nolan is a very poor young girl living in the slums of Williamsbur I had heard of this book quite frequently, but for some reason or another never picked it up. Then years ago, my book club decided to read it. What a Joy! What a Pleasure! I loved reading about this young girl who loved to read as much as I did. How I could relate to her love of going to the library and finding that special book - that treasure! Thus, this book became my treasure. It holds a place on my favorite book list! Francie Nolan is a very poor young girl living in the slums of Williamsburg. Her father is an alcoholic who breezes in and out of their lives. But in Francie's eyes he is a prince. Children often do not see their parent's flaws or perhaps they have the gift of overlooking. She has her father's heart and desperately tries to capture the heart of her hardworking, often harsh, Mother. Her life is rough. She is a girl who loves to look out her front window on Saturday nights, who loves the chalk and short pencils brought home to her. She finds pleasure in the things she can, while enduring hardships such as no or little heat, lack of proper food, loneliness, assault and loss. She has an interesting Aunt who always has a "boyfriend" My grandmother would call her a harlot. I would also call her loving and kind to her niece and nephew. This book stirs the emotions of the reader. There is sadness in this book but there is also survival, hope, strength and determination. The character try their hardest. They are flawed, make mistakes, but always try to do the right thing. Beautifully written book. See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    My story of this book. I never read this back during my school days though I was probably given the opportunity. I had two elective English classes where we were given a choice between three books, this was probably one but I chose another. Sometime within the passing years I bought a copy and put it in the book shelf that is next to my television, where it has stared at me for years, subtly asking ng is it my turn yet? When my friend Brina said she was reading this book and did anyone want to r My story of this book. I never read this back during my school days though I was probably given the opportunity. I had two elective English classes where we were given a choice between three books, this was probably one but I chose another. Sometime within the passing years I bought a copy and put it in the book shelf that is next to my television, where it has stared at me for years, subtly asking ng is it my turn yet? When my friend Brina said she was reading this book and did anyone want to read Al ng with her, I looked at the book and thought, go for it. It was finally this books turn. I opened the page..... Started reading and fell in love with the story of Francie and her family, living in Brooklyn during the early 1900's. Kate her mother, a very strong woman who worked extremely hard, Johnny her charming, hard drinking Irish father and her brother Neely a short year younger than herself. Francie was a remarkable character, how she thinks, the special love she had for her father, who despite his drinking managed to be there when she really needed him. We read as this family weathers changes in livelihood, living conditions and the many changes taking place in the world. Although it was Brooklyn it could have been my neighborhood in Chicago, sixty years later when I was growing up. Somethings had changed, my neighborhood was Irish, Polish and Italian and instead of being secluded but ethnicity we all played together, in the streets sidewalks and alleys. If there was any division it was between those who were Catholic and went to Catholic school and the public's as we called them, who did not. There were still corner stores and our mothers not driving, we were often sent to the stores. Hard drinking Irishmen, we had those too, the ones who closed the bars and walked home weaving but singing. This book was so easy to identify with, the characters so realistic, well, I was smitten, wanted good things to happen for them. The one thing that has changed from back then that I envied them for, was the closeness of families, where everyone worked together, remained close. We don't have this anymore in this global world and that's a shame imo. Would I have appreciated all the nuances of family life within this story, the struggles they went through if I had read this when I was in school, I think not. I think reading this as an adult I was more able to identify and understand what each decision cost them, how hard they fought for survival. I think I read this at the perfect time, plus now it is no longer staring at me unread.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    “Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first time or last time: Then your time on earth will be filed with glory.” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith This may well be one of the top 5 books I have ever read. It is an amazing piece of fiction & one of those books that stays with you long after you've read it. This was Betty Smith’s first novel and it is an American classic; it was an immediate bestseller when it was published in 1943. Smith drew from her own experien “Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first time or last time: Then your time on earth will be filed with glory.” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith This may well be one of the top 5 books I have ever read. It is an amazing piece of fiction & one of those books that stays with you long after you've read it. This was Betty Smith’s first novel and it is an American classic; it was an immediate bestseller when it was published in 1943. Smith drew from her own experience growing up in Brooklyn at the turn of the twentieth century to create the character of Francie Nolan. It’s story of a young girl learning to persevere – like the tree of the book’s title – and overcome the hardships of poverty. One of the first plainly-written novels about the lives of ordinary working-class Americans, it’s beloved as a story of what it means to be human. But A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is much more than a coming of age story. Its richly-plotted narrative of three generations in a poor but proud American family offers a detailed and unsentimental portrait of urban life at the beginning of the century. The story begins in 1912, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, where eleven-year-old Francie Nolan and her younger brother, Neeley, are spending a Saturday collecting rags, paper, metal, rubber, and other scrap to sell to the junk man for a few pennies. Half of any money they get goes into the tin can bank that is nailed to the floor in the back corner of a closet in their tenement flat. This bank, a shared resource among everyone in the family, is returned to time and again throughout the novel, and becomes a recurring symbol of the Nolan's self-reliance, struggles, and dreams. Those dreams sustain every member of the extended Nolan family, not just the children. Their mother Katie scrubs floors and works as a janitor to provide the family with free lodging. She is the primary breadwinner because her husband Johnny, a singing waiter, is often drunk and out of work. Yet there is no dissension in the Nolan household. Katie married a charming dreamer and she accepts her fate, but she vows that things will be better for her children. Her dream is that they will go to college and that Neeley will become a doctor. Intelligent and bookish, Francie seems destined to fulfill this ambition - Neeley less so. In spite of (or perhaps because of) her own pragmatic nature, Francie feels a stronger affinity with her ne'er-do-well father than with her self-sacrificing mother. In her young eyes, Johnny can make wishes come true, as when he finagles her a place in a better public school outside their neighborhood. When Johnny dies an alcohol-related death, leaving behind the two school-aged children and another on the way, Francie cannot quite believe that life can carry on as before. Somehow it does, although the family's small enough dreams need to be further curtailed. Through Katie's determination, Francie and Neeley are able to graduate from the eighth grade, but thoughts of high school give way to the reality of going to work. Their jobs, which take them for the first time across the bridge into Manhattan, introduce them to a broader view of life, beyond the parochial boundaries of Williamsburg. Here Francie feels the pain of her first love affair. And with determination equal to her mother's, she finds a way to complete her education. As she heads off to college at the end of the book, Francie leaves behind the old neighborhood, but carries away in her heart the beloved Brooklyn of her childhood. No matter your age or your place in life the rich prose A Tree Grows In Brooklyn will fuel your dreams and bring joy to your heart as you are transported to another time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" has been passed down through at least three or four generations and is highly regarded as a classic novel perfect for any young adult bent on entering adulthood and escaping from the gaping clutches of a complicated childhood. While it was not for those reasons that I first picked up "Brooklyn," I came to regard it as one of the finest books that I had ever read. At first glance, it is a very deceitful book: short; words spaced nicely apart; and, a largis Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" has been passed down through at least three or four generations and is highly regarded as a classic novel perfect for any young adult bent on entering adulthood and escaping from the gaping clutches of a complicated childhood. While it was not for those reasons that I first picked up "Brooklyn," I came to regard it as one of the finest books that I had ever read. At first glance, it is a very deceitful book: short; words spaced nicely apart; and, a largish font size. However, as I began to become more enveloped in the life of a young Brooklyn girl dreaming of becoming big, I realized that this tale was not as easy as the superficial first glance had led me to believe. For one, Francie's sufferings and trials from being the unloved child gave me a special, odd sort of comfort. If she could survive-no, flourish-living in the slums of Brooklyn with a drunk Irish father and a mother who was not always there for her, why could I not do so in absolute comfort? (Granted, my father is not a drunk, nor is he Irish; and my mother is always there for me. Still, as every young adult feels at one point during this trying time, I have often thought that there was no one to whom I could turn for steady support) Secondly, Betty Smith wrote the novel in a fluid, page-turning manner. Her every word supports and encourages the next, while also performing the duty of enticing the reader to keep marching onward. She writes simply and plainly, a very modern woman in a time where their position in society was shifting. She created in Francie a heroine worthy of comparison to Jane Austen's beloved Elizabeth Bennet or Elinor Dashwood. Bold, daring, smart, and at the same time reserved, wise, creative, and thoughtful, Smith wrote a protagonist not only for the shifting ways of the early 20th century, but for all time.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. "Oh, I want to hold it all!" she cried. "I want to hold the way the night is - cold without wind. And the way the stars are so near and shiny. I want to hold all of it tight until it hollers out, 'Let me go! Let me go!'" The title of this novel refers to a tree that grows persistently up through the concrete and harsh conditions of a poor tenement neighborhood in early 1900s Brooklyn. But it is also a metaphor for the novel's protagonist, Franc Francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. "Oh, I want to hold it all!" she cried. "I want to hold the way the night is - cold without wind. And the way the stars are so near and shiny. I want to hold all of it tight until it hollers out, 'Let me go! Let me go!'" The title of this novel refers to a tree that grows persistently up through the concrete and harsh conditions of a poor tenement neighborhood in early 1900s Brooklyn. But it is also a metaphor for the novel's protagonist, Francie Nolan. She is a sweet, innocent girl who grows and flourishes despite a harsh environment of neglect and poverty. I fell in love with Francie. I loved her childlike innocence and the way she could be so delighted with things we take for granted: things like a flower in a brown bowl, freshly sharpened pencils, dancing shadows on her pillow, shiny stars. I love her pluckiness; I loved the way she refused to conform to the mold her teacher tried to force on her, the way she pulls herself out of poverty by working hard, even though it means giving up on some dreams. But the novel is about so much more than just Francie. This is a beautifully moving portrayal of the human condition and the plight of the downtrodden, similar to the work of Steinbeck, though more hopeful. There is so much American pride coming from the point of view of poor immigrants and their children. The heroes of this book are not great men. They are ordinary people. They are flawed. And they are beautiful. I just want to hold all of them tight until they holler out, "Let me go! Let me go!"

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nataliya

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a quiet, gentle, understated and yet at the same time unexpectedly scathing at times book that offers a window (or a view from a fire escape, if you please) into a little corner of the world a century ago, and yet still has the power to resonate with readers of today. After all, the world has moved forward, yes, but the essential human soul remains the same, and the obstacles in human lives - poverty, inequality, cruelty, and blind self-righteousness - are in no dange A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a quiet, gentle, understated and yet at the same time unexpectedly scathing at times book that offers a window (or a view from a fire escape, if you please) into a little corner of the world a century ago, and yet still has the power to resonate with readers of today. After all, the world has moved forward, yes, but the essential human soul remains the same, and the obstacles in human lives - poverty, inequality, cruelty, and blind self-righteousness - are in no danger of disappearing. "The one tree in Francie’s yard was neither a pine nor a hemlock. It had pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green umbrellas. Some people called it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky. It grew in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps and it was the only tree that grew out of cement. It grew lushly, but only in the tenements districts." It's not easy to answer what this book is about, to answer it in a way that would manage to capture the heart and soul of this story. If you ask me, I think it's a story of people simply being people, the good-bad-and-ugly of humanity. There are so many things coexisting in the pages of this not-that-long book. On one hand, it's a classic coming-of-age and loss-of-innocence tale centered around the experiences of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. On another hand, it is a social commentary taking on the uglier parts of human lives and human nature - the parts that Francie was cautioned against writing about as they are quite 'sordid': poverty, vice, exploitation, intolerance. On yet another hand (yes, I'm running out of hands here) it's a story of American dream - hopeful and determined. “I want to live for something. I don't want to live to get charity food to give me enough strength to go back to get more charity food.” On a different hand, it is also a story of how American dream can be used exactly against the same people that it's supposed to inspire. On yet another hand (apparently my 'hands' example may as well involve an octopus) it is a chronicle of a struggling Brooklyn family with the love and resentment and strong ties that only the members of the family can try to understand. On some other hand, it's a story of what it meant to be a girl and then a woman in the world of a century ago in America. And, on yet another hand, it is an ode to Brooklyn that through the prism of this book appears to be a universe of its own. It is also a story of opportunities lost and opportunities gained despite the odds. It's a story about the will to survive no matter what, about iron-clad will and determination, about hope despite the odds, despite being, for all intents and purposes, on the bottom of the barrel. It's a story about learning to love and respect and compromise and give up - and frequently all at the same time. It's a story about being able to open your eyes to the world around you as you grow up and learning to see this world for what it is, and accept some of it, and reject some, too. It has love and loss and pain and happiness and wonder and ugliness - all candidly and unapologetically presented to the readers allowing them to arrive at their own conclusions just as Francie Nolan has arrived at hers. Apparently when this book was published in mid-1940s, it caused a wave of disappointment and disagreement with the subject matters it raised, the subject matters that some of the public, like the well-meaning but clearly clueless teacher Miss Garnder in this book, probably found too 'sordid' for their taste: the poverty, the pro-union message, the lack of condemnation of female sexuality, the alcoholism, the treatment of immigrants unfamiliar with their rights, the exploitation of the poor and weak ones by those in power - you name it. It seems there was too much of the social message presented with not enough of polishing it and coating it with the feel-good message. "In a flash, she saw which way the wind blew; she saw it blew against children like Francie." The part that probably resonated the most with me out of everything I mentioned, however, was the way Betty Smith describes the poverty of Francie's family and Francie's neighborhood ("... in the Nolan neighborhood, if you could prove you had been born in America, it was equivalent to a Mayflower standing" and where "Kids grow up quick in this neighborhood.") - the area populated mostly by immigrants not quite aware of their rights, selling their votes for the chance to survive another day, and slaving at their jobs just to survive another day in which they can go on slaving for pennies to survive. And yet the system - as well as the still-not-understood undershades of human psyche - instead of uniting these people in their hardships ends up somehow pitting them against each other. "She had been in school but half a day when she knew that she would never be a teacher’s pet. That privilege was reserved for a small group of girls... girls with freshly curled hair, crisp clean pinafores and new silk hairbows. They were the children of the prosperous storekeepers of the neighborhood. Francie noticed how Miss Briggs, the teacher, beamed on them and seated them in the choicest places in the front row. These darlings were not made to share seats. Miss Briggs’s voice was gentle when she spoke to these fortune-favored few, and snarling when she spoke to the great crowd of unwashed." You see, the poverty presented in this book, the poverty in which the Nolan family lives, is far from the innocent, idealistic, noble and 'cleansing' way it's often presented. No, this book does not fall into the pitfall of somehow glorifying poverty. The Nolans are decent people DESPITE their poverty and not in any way thanks to it - the message that is presented subtly but clearly through Francie's understanding that there's little point to it, that there's really nothing to be gained from it no matter how you can later justify it to yourself through the idea that 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'¹.Allow me to quote Terry Pratchett here: -"Remember - that which does not kill us can only make us stronger." "And that which *does* kill us leaves us dead!" And, of course, denigration of poor people and worship of money, as well as the stark gap between the rich and the poor in the American society did not go away a century after the events of this novel. Neither did the fact that if you live in a poor neighborhood and get an education there, you are at a disadvantage as compared to your peers (Francie tried to combat that by finding a way to attend a better school in a better area - but using the ways that would surely condemn her in the eyes of the general public had she done it now, like quite a few people try to). And the fact that as we continue to proclaim the benefits of Democracy (as Johnny Nolan did his whole short life) while poverty continues to run rampant and the rich continue to be rich is perhaps one of the saddest things that you take from reading this book. "They think this is so good," she thought. "They think it’s good— the tree they got for nothing and their father playing up to them and the singing and the way the neighbors are happy. They think they’re mighty lucky that they’re living and that it’s Christmas again. They can’t see that we live on a dirty street in a dirty house among people who aren’t much good. Johnny and the children can’t see how pitiful it is that our neighbors have to make happiness out of this filth and dirt. My children must get out of this. They must come to more than Johnny or me or all these people around us." Another part is the deconstruction of American Dream - to a point. On one hand, Francie and her mother Katie and her grandmother Mary all support the idea of education eventually being able to help you get out of the cycle of poverty. On the other hand, through Francie's eyes we see the flipside of this believe in American Dream - the shrugging off the problems of the poor by those who are a bit more well-to-do under the mistaken beliefs that (a) they understand exactly what the poor are going through (like Francie's teacher Miss Garnder 'understood' poverty because - oh the horror! - at some point in her life she lived on tea and toast for three days and her family did not always have a maid) and (b) assume that the only reason the poor stay poor is because they have to be lazy (again, like Miss Garnder, the well-meaning soul who nevertheless was in position of power to pass on her flawed beliefs to the impressionable young children she educated). “But poverty, starvation and drunkenness are ugly subjects to choose. We all admit these things exist. But one doesn’t write about them.” “What does one write about?” Unconsciously, Francie picked up the teacher’s phraseology. “One delves into the imagination and finds beauty there. The writer, like the artist, must strive for beauty always.” “What is beauty?” asked the child. “I can think of no better definition than Keats’: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty.’” Francie took her courage into her two hands and said, “Those stories are the truth.” This book is simply written and slow-moving - but in an enchanting, engrossing way that allows the characters to shine through its pages. There's really little plot in the way we, modern readers, frequently think of such. Most of the book seems to be comprised of little vignettes connected to each other, placed to shed light on different aspects of the lives of the Nolans and the Rommelys, to present different edges of their personalities and to show the wider picture of the time and the neighborhood where they live. We get to experience Katie's determined strength, Johnny's unabashed hopefulness mixed with weakness, Sissy's love and disregard for arbitrary societal limitations, and Francie's curiosity and desire for life and learning. "Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It’s growing out of sour earth. And it’s strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way." And a word about Francie herself, of course. Yes, she is far from an ideal heroine. She is naive and impressionable, sometimes frustratingly so. She can be meek and allow others to take advantage of her and direct her life - to the point when we, readers from the time when women can vote and have achieved some resemblance of equality, start getting frustrated with her. But she has this insatiable curiosity for life and desire to rise above her low station in life, and inner backbone and character steel that she appears to have inherited from her mother Katie (Katie, who is a true cornerstone of this book, the source of its inner strength and resilience that allows the Nolans to have hope for the future) - all the traits that make the reader cheer for this quiet and yet determined young woman who will ultimately find out what's best for her in life while always remembering where she comes from. “Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” I'm glad I read this book now and not back when I was a kid. Back then I would have judged so many characters harshly, seeing the world from a quite privileged perspective of a person who had the luxury of education and only experienced a few years of significant poverty that was followed by a reasonably comfortable life afterwards. Now, with a bit more life experience on my shoulders, I cannot help but adore the quiet heart of this story and the different shades of life and people that it portrays. 4.5 stars without a bit of hesitation.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    The tree that grows in Brooklyn isn't about Brooklyn at all. It's an encapsulation of the experience of the immigrant, with the first generation American-born as astonished observer. And liver. From the eyes of ever-evolving Francie, who writes about it all, writing herself out of nightmarish situations (deaths, hunger, & a sexual deviant that lingers in the hallways) and childhood idylls (trips to the candy store... & feeling validated, loved, cared for). She describes things that are f The tree that grows in Brooklyn isn't about Brooklyn at all. It's an encapsulation of the experience of the immigrant, with the first generation American-born as astonished observer. And liver. From the eyes of ever-evolving Francie, who writes about it all, writing herself out of nightmarish situations (deaths, hunger, & a sexual deviant that lingers in the hallways) and childhood idylls (trips to the candy store... & feeling validated, loved, cared for). She describes things that are funny & tragic at once; because she survives the story--this is a loose autobiography, infused, no doubt, with the novelist's godly fictions--we end up loving her. &, implicitly, we fall in love with family, childhood, life, fiction, history. Even our own America.

  14. 4 out of 5

    El

    I felt like the last person in the world to have read this book, and based on what everyone has said about it over the years, I expected this to be the next best thing after the Crispy Potato Soft Taco at Taco Bell. But as I read the first 200 pages, I thought everyone was out of their freaking minds. This, I thought, is what everyone has been raving about for as long as I can remember? I even did a quick peek at my GR friends list - you people love this book. I couldn't figure out why. It starte I felt like the last person in the world to have read this book, and based on what everyone has said about it over the years, I expected this to be the next best thing after the Crispy Potato Soft Taco at Taco Bell. But as I read the first 200 pages, I thought everyone was out of their freaking minds. This, I thought, is what everyone has been raving about for as long as I can remember? I even did a quick peek at my GR friends list - you people love this book. I couldn't figure out why. It started coming together for me somewhere after the 200-page mark. Things actually started happening, and the chapters weren't just excuses to explain some sort of mundane aspect of Francie's life. I don't need a lot of melodrama in my literature, but there needs to be some sort of conflict. Some sort of obstacle to overcome. Some sort of tension. This book lacked that for a good portion of the story. When things did get interesting, I started to understand why so many people love this book. Personally I don't love it. It didn't make me weep, though I admit to tearing up maybe once. I think this is another one of those books that I should have read when I was much younger to have a full appreciation for this coming-of-age novel. I can appreciate it for what it is. But it didn't change my life.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    It is a tribute to Jeanette Walls that I could not get through this book without comparing it dozens of times to The Glass Castle, with The Glass Castle coming off as its genius granddaughter or fashionable little sister. I probably should have read this first, as a child or teenager, but it’s too late for that now. No regrets! I could not help wondering why Betty Smith wrote this story as fiction rather than memoir, and the fact of it being fiction made me notice a lack of complexity in Francie It is a tribute to Jeanette Walls that I could not get through this book without comparing it dozens of times to The Glass Castle, with The Glass Castle coming off as its genius granddaughter or fashionable little sister. I probably should have read this first, as a child or teenager, but it’s too late for that now. No regrets! I could not help wondering why Betty Smith wrote this story as fiction rather than memoir, and the fact of it being fiction made me notice a lack of complexity in Francie’s character. Smith did not love, admire, and criticize Francie in the same way she did the Rommely sisters or Johnny Nolan. I am sure that it is because, although Smith uses the omniscient third person, Francie is Smith, and the story is thoroughly from Francie’s point of view. It is difficult to treat yourself as a fictional character. At the same time, the comparison of the two books is also a tribute to Jeanette Walls because A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a very wonderful book with many, many beautiful moments. I enjoy photographs that take something ordinary or dreary in real life and turn it into something interesting and beautiful, and this book is the written equivalent of that. There is a section of this story when Francie meets with her English teacher, in which Smith states one of her theories on writing, and it has stuck with me. Always an exceptional writer, Francie has recently stopped writing romantic, idealized descriptions of things she’s never seen, and begun writing stories about her father’s alcoholism. Her teacher dislikes these stories and tells Francie that successful writing is always about something beautiful and better than life. This is a major conflict for Francie because her father was a beautiful, better-than-life person to her despite his alcoholism, and she feels her teacher’s judgment of their poverty. She also finds that once she has begun writing about real things, it would be superficial to write about anything else. This exchange was thought-provoking for me because I generally land on the side of Francie’s teacher in this argument. I read for pleasure, and so when an author seems absolutely bent on being vulgar and unpleasant, it makes me angry. I like for fiction to be beautiful and better than life. At the same time, Smith made me realize that my argument is a myopic generalization. Smith’s descriptions of the Nolan family’s poverty and Johnny Nolan’s alcoholism are beautiful and delicate, even though the facts of both are not beautiful or delicate. The descriptions are even important, because it is so easy to oversimplify classes of people into noble or lazy, rather than seeing the complexity of individual situations. I’m glad that Smith did not take her English teacher’s and my advice. While I enjoyed most of this book, I did not love it. I think this was because I did not love Francie, or even have a very definite image of who she was. I loved all of her family members and the stories of their lives. I found the Rommely family wonderful and fascinating, even Katie’s evil father. I would never argue that this was not an important book, and I am glad I read it. As fiction and even as a coming of age story, there was not a specific plot point drawing me through the book, as most of the events were pretty well foretold from the first 100 pages. I do not think this was a failing on Smith’s part, because I believe her intention was more photographic – a series of snap shots of life in Brooklyn before World War I. I am looking forward to watching the movie, though, as I think I will benefit from having a face for Francie.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Coffee stains form tiny trails across the cover of my copy, which goes to show how long I stayed with this book. Although written with lucid simplicity, as one would expect from a bildungsroman, I read it slowly. I savored each moment with Francie, a girl with whom I found so much in common (to say how is to tell a meandering story, for our childhoods are so different and yet so similar). Perhaps this is the appeal of this American classic, its transcendence into the psyche of each reader's chil Coffee stains form tiny trails across the cover of my copy, which goes to show how long I stayed with this book. Although written with lucid simplicity, as one would expect from a bildungsroman, I read it slowly. I savored each moment with Francie, a girl with whom I found so much in common (to say how is to tell a meandering story, for our childhoods are so different and yet so similar). Perhaps this is the appeal of this American classic, its transcendence into the psyche of each reader's childhood. She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. The last time I recall following a child narrator so closely, was in Frank McCourt's Pulitzer-Prize-winning memoir, Angela's Ashes. The two may not have style or texture in common, but they both possess this sense of urgency that grips and pulls. While on this journey with Francie, I sensed myself on a somber ride through Williamsburg, Brooklyn; despite the bleakness, there was some humor from the sparkle of song, or from the absurdities of her drunk dad's loving interactions with her. There is despair, but strength. Strength from a woman who chose to marry a man she would have to work to support on a meager salary; strength from a growing family of strong-minded, hopeful children; strength from an instinctive, immigrant grandmother. 'People always think that happiness is a faraway thing, thought Francie,'something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains—a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone—just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.' When a child is raised on strong, black coffee to replace a meal, you know that you've entered a different dynamic. Something is wrong when children go hungry in a resourceful nation. Something is wrong with adults who continue to introduce life into dismal environments; this is something Francie's father struggles with, the idea that he doesn't think himself or his environment fit to raise children. To speak of poverty is to make some uncomfortable, so most avoid the topic. Still, as the book tore through to the core of me, it made me wonder if I don't speak of my own childhood of malnutrition and hunger because of pride. Which one brings the most guilt: surviving hunger and not returning to feed every child, or surviving and refusing to speak up about it? Coffee stains form tiny dots across the ridges of my book's pages, tinted strokes that become one with the flaws and dinginess of humanity. The guttural evocation of empathy that stems from desolation and hopelessness is one that should resonate not just with me, but with every reader who encounters the bleak, yet bliss moments of Francie's coming of age in 1900s Brooklyn.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    2.5 stars This book is loved by so many people that I think I expected too much from it. It's a good coming-of-age story that follows Francie Nolan as she grows up in Brooklyn during the early 1900's. I think most of the novelty of the story is how different our world is 100 years later. The writing didn't really do much for me—so much of it felt like things happening to Francie as opposed to her actually doing things. And that held me at a distance. I felt like Betty Smith was just telling me a 2.5 stars This book is loved by so many people that I think I expected too much from it. It's a good coming-of-age story that follows Francie Nolan as she grows up in Brooklyn during the early 1900's. I think most of the novelty of the story is how different our world is 100 years later. The writing didn't really do much for me—so much of it felt like things happening to Francie as opposed to her actually doing things. And that held me at a distance. I felt like Betty Smith was just telling me all of it but not showing it to me. Also knowing that a lot of this is based on the author's life, I would've almost rather read a memoir version of this, similar to Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. Overall it was an okay story that I'm SO glad to have finally read (it was on my shelf for years), but it's not one I connected to as strongly as so many others.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Blake Crouch

    Read concurrently with my son. They don't do characterization like this anymore. Rich, multi-layered, and ultimately a song of hope. One of my fave reads of recent years.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Another American classic finally read. I'm very glad to have finally experienced this book. It was really more than I expected, a wonderful story of a young girl growing up in early twentieth century Brooklyn with her parents and brother. The life was hard with family foremost but not perfect. The details were perfect, from the multiple uses for bread to stretch out meals to details from school experiences to conversations between mother and daughter revealing depths of honesty and past despair. Another American classic finally read. I'm very glad to have finally experienced this book. It was really more than I expected, a wonderful story of a young girl growing up in early twentieth century Brooklyn with her parents and brother. The life was hard with family foremost but not perfect. The details were perfect, from the multiple uses for bread to stretch out meals to details from school experiences to conversations between mother and daughter revealing depths of honesty and past despair. So much happens in the six or seven years we follow Francie and her family in their lives. There are births, deaths, graduations, jobs won and lost, weddings and funerals, occasional laughter and more weeping. There is a lot of unspoken love between people who don't appear to know how to express their feelings for each other. This book had a personal impact on me because of the time period involved. My mother was born in the time frame of this story and would have experienced some of what Francie experienced in her life, though not in New York. It makes me wish to know more about my mother's life, things I never will know now.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    This feels autobiographical. It does seem to be based off the childhood experiences of Betty. The beginning went into the history of the Nolan family and I'm sure this set the stage, but it dragged and I almost stopped reading. I felt like it took forever to read this book. It was worth it. The story does grow inside you somehow. This is not the usual genre I read. I also found the first 3/4 of the book very very stressful. They lived poor and there was a stress always about where the money was This feels autobiographical. It does seem to be based off the childhood experiences of Betty. The beginning went into the history of the Nolan family and I'm sure this set the stage, but it dragged and I almost stopped reading. I felt like it took forever to read this book. It was worth it. The story does grow inside you somehow. This is not the usual genre I read. I also found the first 3/4 of the book very very stressful. They lived poor and there was a stress always about where the money was going to come from. It's good to step into those shoes, but it's still stressful reading for me. They are some tough people. Being a student, living on loans, I have all kinds of fears about money right now and I think this novel tapped into those fears about my future. I gotta move. Francie is our protagonist. She lives in the poor parts of Brooklyn to Irish parents. They are tough. Her mom wants her to have an education to make something of herself and get out of poverty. She makes Francie read some Shakespeare or the Bible every day of her life. The mother does her best to help Francie get ahead in this world in her way. Francie learns she enjoys writing. Where the story really took off for me was the exchange between Francie and her teacher. There is a passage that gave me chills it was so powerful. Francie's father has died and instead of writing her fun and fanciful fluff for her teacher, which she is the number one student in the class, she begins to write about her father. He was a drunk and they had a hard life. Francie goes from making A+ to making Cs. Her teacher quotes, Keats poem 'Truth is beauty and beauty is truth.' She tells Francie that this is what makes a work worth something. Francie tries to defend herself by saying this is her truth. The teacher tells her that beauty is things that lift the heart like beautiful flowers. Drunks, poverty and living in the gutter is not beauty, for we don't want to focus on it. While it does make for difficult subject matter, those things are part of reality and seeing a character find beauty in the gutter is quite beautiful. Francie is insulted and she stops writing. She is wounded and confused and she ends up growing up in that moment. She no longer looks up to the teacher. I think by the work in our hands, Betsy must have gone through something close like this and we can see that if you give your truth, and it is about the hardships of life, it can be beautiful. After this moment, the book got so much better for me and I was engaged. It had me, but I had to read half of it to get there. I love the ending and where Francie ends up. I love that she gets to go to College. This was not a fun book. Parts of this book were work and parts of it were stressful and parts were slow. But there is something that happens going through Francie's journey that make for quite an experience. I love Francie's evolution. The tree in the title is only mentioned a fraction, but it was pretty powerful at the end. I'm glad I struggled through this book and finished it. It was worth the struggle.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    Perfect. Absolutely perfect. The only thing that could have improved my experience with this book would have been finding it fifteen years sooner. I wish twelve year-old me had known this book existed, and had been able to experience the life of Francie Nolan when we were closer to the same age. But even as an adult, I’ve found a kindred spirit in this scrappy little girl from Brooklyn, and watching her grow up and experience both heartaches and triumph was one of the most wonderful reading jour Perfect. Absolutely perfect. The only thing that could have improved my experience with this book would have been finding it fifteen years sooner. I wish twelve year-old me had known this book existed, and had been able to experience the life of Francie Nolan when we were closer to the same age. But even as an adult, I’ve found a kindred spirit in this scrappy little girl from Brooklyn, and watching her grow up and experience both heartaches and triumph was one of the most wonderful reading journeys I’ve ever embarked upon. Better late than never. Francie and her family are incredibly poor, barely able to scrape by. Meals are sometimes scant, sometimes skipped. But in spite of hunger and cold, Francie is happy. She experiences life to the absolute fullest, wringing enjoyment from every possible source. Is she sometimes unhappy and angry and afraid? Of course. But she overcomes adversity by following doggedly in the footsteps of her mother, but with her father’s sunnier outlook on life. Witnessing all the various ways in which Francie’s life changes, be they slow and steady changes or alterations that spring up fast enough to induce whiplash, is a study in the human condition and a child’s resilience. But what I loved most here was Francie’s intense love of words, and how that love manifests itself during different portions of her life. I have never in my life related more to a quote from a book than I did this one: “From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books because her friends and there was one for every mood.” I had a hard time making friends with kids my own age when I first started school. I could strike up conversations with adults and even older kids, no problem. But I didn’t relate well to people my own age. Plus, I looked kind of funny, and there’s no one in the world meaner than kids. So I submersed myself in fiction for the first five years of elementary school. Once I got braces and grew into my ears and hit puberty, I developed friendships with most of my (very small) class. But, until then, I carried a book with me onto the playground and into the cafeteria every single day. So the magic Francie found in books, I found too. It’s hard to explain why this book impacted me so much. It’s just the story of a poor girl growing up in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. But she was so real to me. And every character I saw through her eyes was real, even with their flaws, whether those flaws were real or simply implied by Francie. She’s fictional, but I love her. I love her family and her neighbors and the character of her neighborhood itself. Betty Smith did a fantastic job showing us Francie’s life through the girl’s own eyes, instead of just telling us about it. If you’ve never read this book, you should. It’s a classic for a reason, and it’s one I’ll be revisiting again and again. If there’s a little girl in your life who inhales books like the words they contain are oxygen, please give her a copy of this book. She’ll find a lifelong friend in France Nolan. I know I did. For more of my reviews, as well as my own fiction and thoughts on life, check out my blog, Celestial Musings.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a semi-autobiographical 1943 novel written by Betty Smith. The story focuses on an impoverished but aspirational adolescent girl and her family living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, during the first two decades of the 20th century. The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and crue A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a semi-autobiographical 1943 novel written by Betty Smith. The story focuses on an impoverished but aspirational adolescent girl and her family living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City, during the first two decades of the 20th century. The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه آگوست سال 2012 میلادی عنوان: درختی در بروکلین می‌روید؛ نویسنده: بتی اسمیت؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ تهران: هنرکده‏‫، 1390؛ در 508 ص؛ شابک: 9786009245734؛ چاپ دوم 1391؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20 م کتاب «درختی در بروکلین می‌روید»؛ رمانی نوشته ی «بتی اسمیت» است، که نخستین بار در سال 1943 میلادی منتشر شد. این رمان آمریکایی کلاسیک و بسیار محبوب، درباره ی بزرگ شدن دختری جوان، داستانی گزنده و تکان دهنده، و سرشار از مهربانی و بیرحمی، و خنده و ناراحتی است، و زندگیها، شخصیتها و رویدادهای هیجان انگیزی را، در صفحاتش خود جای داده است. داستان دختری جوان، حساس، و آرمانگرا، به نام: «فرانسی نولان»، و سالهای تلخ و شیرین و سرنوشتساز زندگی اش، در زاغه های «ویلیامزبورگ»، برای بیش از هفت دهه است، که میلیونها خوانشگر را به وجد آورده، و الهامبخش آنها بوده است. تجربه های روزانه ی خانواده ی فراموش نشدنیِ «نولان»، با صداقت و جذابیتی کم مانند در اثری ادبی به نگارش درآمده، که به شکلی درخشان، زمان و مکانی ویژه را به همراه لحظاتی بسیار ناب، از تجربه های انسانی، با واژه ها به تصویر کشید شده است. نقل از متن «نیاکان من خواندن و نوشتن بلد نبودند. پدران آنها نیز سواد خواندن و نوشتن نداشتند. پدر و مادرم هم به مدرسه نرفتند. با این حال، من، فرانسی نولان، به کالج میروم! میشنوی، فرانسی؟ تو به کالج میروی؟ آه خدای بزرگ!»؛ پایان نقل. ‬ا. شربیانی

  23. 4 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is the story of Francie (Frances) Nolan growing up in the slums of Brooklyn in 1912. Over the years, it has been called a timeless classic, a description which will undoubtedly remain steadfast. “Francie’s mother is small and pretty but steely and tough but her father is warm and charming and, above all, a prisoner of his need for drink.”* Kate, the mother, is the breadwinner of the family, clean houses for the money, which feeds, clothes and keep the family warm (when t A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is the story of Francie (Frances) Nolan growing up in the slums of Brooklyn in 1912. Over the years, it has been called a timeless classic, a description which will undoubtedly remain steadfast. “Francie’s mother is small and pretty but steely and tough but her father is warm and charming and, above all, a prisoner of his need for drink.”* Kate, the mother, is the breadwinner of the family, clean houses for the money, which feeds, clothes and keep the family warm (when the money stretches that far). Kate favours Neeley, the son, while Johnny, the father, provides the love and understanding Francie needs. Francie is a lonely child who collects junk for pennies to help supplement the family’s income. She has no friends, her companion is Neeley (when he's around) and a beloved aunt. She longs for school but school, when she gets there, is not the place she has imagined. It’s tough and cruel, the teachers are harsh, and Francie suffers many indignities. But it provides the outlet she requires, she learns to read and her love of reading and writing is born. It is here that she decides she will become first, a writer, then a playwright. It is at school she also learns the spitefulness of girls, and vows “I will never have a woman friend”. At the end of grade school, her beloved father’s death means that Francie must finish school and go to work; her first two jobs are factory work, followed by office work in New York; across the Brooklyn Bridge and a place Francie has always longed for. Francie’s story and that of her family’s continues well into her late teens. Perhaps the impact of this story is that the reader, as well as Francie, says goodbye to her young self at the novel’s close. Personally, I was deflated to learn there was no sequel; I loved Francie and felt I had grown up in Brooklyn with her. I wanted more; what happened to Francie, where did she go, who did she love (if she loved), did she become a playwright. Quindlen says there is no doubt that this is a memoir, rewritten at the behest of editors, as a fictional story. So probably I do know what happened in Francie’s later life although I still wanted to read it, wanted to hear it in Francie’s words. Anna Quindlen, in her wonderful introduction says: “It is not a showy book from a literary point of view. It’s pages are not larded with metaphor or simile or the sound of the writer’s voice in love with it’s own music. Its glory is in the clear-eyed descriptions of its scenes and people.” [ ]“This is that rare and enduring thing, a book in which, no matter what our backgrounds, we recognise ourselves.” Quindlen's last sentence is so true: I found Francie’s story waking some forgotten memory in me – until that is, I reminded myself that I grew up in a upper middle-class family in Melbourne in the middle 1960s. I am pleased to find that people of all ages are still reading Smith’s wonderful novel. I think it is a story that remains relevant no matter the year or your age. It will always remain one of my most treasured reads. Thanks to Anastasia for recommending the book to me. Most Highly Recommended. 4.5★ *Quoted from Quindlen’s Introduction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    In 1943 the average Caucasian American still believed that people of other races were contaminating swimming pools and public restrooms with their skin and that women of all races were second-class citizens. Out of this backdrop stepped a skinny white girl from Brooklyn who managed to publish a ridiculously modern coming-of-age novel and introduced the world to Francie Nolan. As well-read as I am, I had not met Francie Nolan until this week of my life, and I feel a great regret for not knowing he In 1943 the average Caucasian American still believed that people of other races were contaminating swimming pools and public restrooms with their skin and that women of all races were second-class citizens. Out of this backdrop stepped a skinny white girl from Brooklyn who managed to publish a ridiculously modern coming-of-age novel and introduced the world to Francie Nolan. As well-read as I am, I had not met Francie Nolan until this week of my life, and I feel a great regret for not knowing her sooner. Francie Nolan is a life-changing character and this is a life-altering book. I can honestly say that, as much as I loved it, it is not a book I would hand to my husband or son, but I would hand it to any woman over the age of 15. If you can't relate to Francie Nolan, I would go out on a limb and guess that you have lived an enchanted, near-perfect life. You don't need to have been poor to relate to Francie, you could have been any of the other following things: a daughter of immigrants, a daughter of an alcoholic, a girl who sometimes struggled relating to her peers, a dreamer, a girl. This is a staggering, near-brilliant work of fiction and it has left me with scenes that I will potentially remember the rest of my life. I had tears running down my face throughout several parts, and during one scene in particular, when a mob of angry mothers get their hands (or rather their feet) on a criminal, I found myself shouting out, "GET HIM!" and wishing I had been with them to obliterate the beast. What you have here is a great and rare celebration of what it means to be a girl. Girls face danger and inadequacies and meanness everywhere, but through powerful aunts who go marching into schools to defend nieces, mothers who take on 2nd and 3rd jobs to cover up for fathers who fail to launch, and grandmothers who make sure their grandchildren are not embarrassed by their imaginations, they can learn that they can make it in this world, and thrive. This book is like a blessing. It has certainly blessed me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniella

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my absolute favorite book of all time. While the story is set at the turn of the century (1902-1919) and contains many historical elements that may feel alien to the modern reader, the message that is subtly and intricately woven into the fabric of the story is one that I feel not only transcends the ages, but also one with which many of us can identify. The protagonist, Francie, and her family represent the sort of wonderfully complex characters who come alive in the r A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my absolute favorite book of all time. While the story is set at the turn of the century (1902-1919) and contains many historical elements that may feel alien to the modern reader, the message that is subtly and intricately woven into the fabric of the story is one that I feel not only transcends the ages, but also one with which many of us can identify. The protagonist, Francie, and her family represent the sort of wonderfully complex characters who come alive in the reader's mind as fully as if they were old friends. Detractors say that Francie fits the depressing Pauper archetype, who spends the vast majority of the book being beaten down by her unfortunate circumstances. For me, however, she unfolds into a delightful character who is easy to love; a heroine who strikes a delicate balance between sinner and saint, full of humor, wit, compassion, strength, imagination and a unique perspective on the world around her. Altogether, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a fantastic book that is engrossing, evocative, poignant and inspiring.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    I'm just soooo not into this right now. Maybe I'll pick it up again at a later date!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Umut Reviews

    4.5 stars to this timeless literary feast that sets a high bar for the definition of characterisation. It was definitely my delicious slow burning read of the month. I adored it. This American modern classic is set in 1900s, and about Francie Nolan's coming-of-age story. Throughout the book, we follow Francie. It's a really slow book, not much happens, but a lot happens at the same time :) I can say, if you like action packed books, maybe it's not for you. But, if you like slow burning, real lif 4.5 stars to this timeless literary feast that sets a high bar for the definition of characterisation. It was definitely my delicious slow burning read of the month. I adored it. This American modern classic is set in 1900s, and about Francie Nolan's coming-of-age story. Throughout the book, we follow Francie. It's a really slow book, not much happens, but a lot happens at the same time :) I can say, if you like action packed books, maybe it's not for you. But, if you like slow burning, real life stories with complex character development. Then, Betty Smith's book is amazing. Apparently, it's her debut, and sold millions of copies to date. However, she couldn't reach to the same level of success with her following novels. It was an interesting fact for me, so I wanted to share this as well :) 

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    No words can express the love I have for this book. Pure Perfection for this reader. It will be added to the favorite shelf.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    OH WHAT A WONDERFUL COMING-OF-AGE STORY!In Betty Smith's classic, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, she re-creates the challenging world of extreme poverty, starvation and hardship that she grew up in as a girl and teen in the Williamsburg slums from 1902-1919.As an avid reader, it is hard not to fall in love with Francie, her love of books and the explosive excitement she feels from learning and attaining her goals. The more I became acquainted with the Nolan family, I just did not want the story to en OH WHAT A WONDERFUL COMING-OF-AGE STORY!In Betty Smith's classic, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, she re-creates the challenging world of extreme poverty, starvation and hardship that she grew up in as a girl and teen in the Williamsburg slums from 1902-1919.As an avid reader, it is hard not to fall in love with Francie, her love of books and the explosive excitement she feels from learning and attaining her goals. The more I became acquainted with the Nolan family, I just did not want the story to end.....the descriptive environment.....well-defined characters.....interesting jobs.......and oh my, what a penny or two could buy!Yes, there are moments of sadness and despair, but also many uplifting family moments that made me laugh out loud. Between papa's shenanigans, crazy ole Aunt Sissy, and the disappointments of young love......not to mention Francie's encounter with the pervert.....I can only say, I don't know why I waited so long to read this memorable and entertaining classic.Highly Recommend!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was a beautiful novel that resonated with me. This was a timeless classic that was first published in 1943, but I still could relate to Francie Nolan in this coming-of-age novel at the beginning of the twentieth century. I am just so sorry that it has taken me so long to read this beautiful book and to meet Francie Nolan. I related to her experiences throughout and it moved me as so few books do. I loved the trips each week to the library by Francie as she systematically A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was a beautiful novel that resonated with me. This was a timeless classic that was first published in 1943, but I still could relate to Francie Nolan in this coming-of-age novel at the beginning of the twentieth century. I am just so sorry that it has taken me so long to read this beautiful book and to meet Francie Nolan. I related to her experiences throughout and it moved me as so few books do. I loved the trips each week to the library by Francie as she systematically attempted to read all the books in the library, and at the same time, she was enthralled by the brown vase that always had the flowers of the season. You have to love the metaphor of the tree growing in the concrete as Francie's favorite time was reading out on the fire escape in the shade of the tree. As we come to know all of the Nolan family, we become immersed in the immigrant experience. There is a reason that some books stand the test of time, and it may be the universal truths that we all share. Francie Nolan, I will never forget you, we shared a lot, albeit in different times. "Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It's growing out of sour earth. And it's strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way." "OH, MAGIC HOUR WHEN A CHILD FIRST KNOWS IT CAN READ PRINTED WORDS!" "From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day, when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived." "A new tree had grown from the stump and its trunk had grown along the ground until it reached a place where there were no wash lines above it. Then it had started to grown towards the sky again."

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